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We are incredibly humbled by the outpouring of love from everyone after finishing our ride. A massive THANK YOU to all who have congratulated us, given us high-fives, hugs, emails and messages from afar. It feels so special to know so many people have followed us on our journey, in spirit, in person and from all over the world. Thank you.
And guess where we are right now? USHUAIA! That's right, from just two and a half weeks ago after pedaling into this town at the end of our epic bicycle journey, we are now on a giant sailing buffet arriving in style. It's very surreal. Two and a half weeks ago, February 16th, we awoke to a spectacularly sunny day after days of rain. It was no coincidence that all those thoughts and prayers from everyone we know and love had brought us this great day. A crisp, cold morning adorned in our gloves (thank you Robin for bringing us the extra warm pair of gloves!), we had a slow climb up over the pass from the lake at which we camped a couple nights to have a day to reflect on a journey spanning nearly two years. The climb warmed us up and the road wound through the mountainous wilderness at the end of the world, dotted with glittering lakes and rivers. The knot was building in my stomach and the giant smile plastered across my face couldn't be scraped off. As we dropped down out of the mountains, and rounded a bend in the road, there appeared tow giant towers announcing our arrival in "Ushuaia". Tears poured from my eyes and Ville and I climbed off our bikes hugging each other. Wow, what a feeling. All this time, all the memories, all coming back to this moment right now. We pushed on down to the waterfront to get a picture next to the famous "Ushuaia, End of the World" sign with tears in our eyes and giant smiles on our faces.
But this was not the end of the road. We had begun this journey so long ago in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska because it was the most northern most point with a road. And we wanted to bike to the end of the road at the bottom of the world, Lapataia Bay. The next 12 miles climbed into the scenic national park and the road, literally, ended. At a Bahia Lapataia sign and a wooden dock out over the water. We pushed our bikes out there and snapped a couple pics. At the end of the world, the end of a journey biking the Americas and with my best friend in hand. Wow, what a ride! We had a couple glorious days drinking champagne in a hotel bed after hot showers, throwing away all our tattered clothing and taking it all in. And those were a couple very emotional days. The 19th, we spent the day in the yard of our hotel taking apart our bicycles with our hand tools and boxing them up with the help and company of a long-distance motorcyclist, Richard, from Canada. Thanks Richard, have a fantastic and safe journey north.
We were excited to discover that the airline charged us only $20 US per bike for our flights to Buenos Aires and we arrived after a smooth flight. With help from our friends and Warmshowers hosts, Felix and Babun, we were able to book a taxi big enough to pick us, and our bikes in boxes, up and get us safely to another Warmshowers host, Agus. Thanks to our hosts taking us in and showing us the town as friends, we had a very memorable time in Buenos Aires. The first few days were spent on the metro, buses and walking around the city to find affordable clothes to replace our few pairs of ratty bike gear. It was overwhelming. Buenos Aires is similar to New York City in the swirling chaos of noise, activity, traffic, and people in a hurry. Cell phones glaring in everyone's faces, squealing of brakes, dodging of people in a hurry on packed sidewalks, rush hour squeezed into a metro breathing upwards. I was incredibly overwhelmed after just ending a nearly two year mediation in nature on a bicycle in quiet open space for, most, of the journey. It brought on a migraine for me that lasted a few days, but got more use to the rhythm of the city and were able to explore more after that.
Agus, our first host, took us out with friends to see a Tango music band, Orquesta Tipica Fernandez Fierro, and we really enjoyed eating dinner together and learning more about Buenos Aires. Thank you so much Agus for taking us in, allowing us the time to get some much needed rest, and showing us a good time amigo! The next handful of days we went and stayed only a couple blocks away at another Warmshowers host's house, Felix and Babun. Now dressed in only the most fashionable clothes pesos can buy in a few thrift stores in Buenos Aires, we walked all over town checking out the Cultural Center, waterfront shops, downtown, Palermo, Old Town, a few markets, and even the Boca Juniors Stadium. As former football/soccer players, this was a very cool experience for us to get to go stand in the stadium where football greats like Maradona have played. Unfortunately we were unable to score tickets to a game, but approved of their policy of selling tickets to members and the fan club first. Guess we just have to come back someday to see a game.
On the weekend, Felix and Babun, fellow touring cyclists, lent us extra bikes and we leisurely pedaled north along the river, past the River Plate Stadium (another famed soccer team), winding through neighborhoods, stopping at pastry shops to get treats and up to a beach to relax and drink Mate. It felt so nice to be back on bikes, cruiser bikes this time at a leisurely pace and on a sunny day with friends. We stopped on the return for snacks at their favorite spots and even made it back in time to prep for a presentation about our bike ride. Felix and Babun were nice enough to plan a get-together with a small group of friends who were interested to hear about the journey. Thank you both so much for pulling that together and everyone who came to support us!
Thanks to our local hosts, we stopped at numerous tasty food joints in the city to get the best of the best in Buenos Aires cuisine. Everything from empanadas to pizza slices to pastries. Oh boy! Definitely not losing weight anymore. And then on the 28th, we took a taxi with our bikes to the docks to board our Princess Cruise Ship where we would be spending the next 30 days slowly making our way back south around Cape Horn and back up the west coast all the way to Los Angeles! What took us over a year to bike would take only a day to fly but less than a month to sail. We had booked the cruise months before knowing that after an ending to a journey this monstrous, we would need some pampering and a slow return to "reality."
When we walked into our cabin on the ship, we both took hot showers, wrapped ourselves in the complimentary white bath robes, and sprawled out across the most comfortable cushy soft-as-a-cloud bed we have ever laid on. It was heaven. And it would be our very own room for 30 whole days! The most comfortable bed, with the bathroom in the same place, constant hot water shower whenever we want and a buffet table loaded with food at the ready. What could possibly make a couple of cyclists any happier?
After a much needed nap (we are struggling with the late night, early morning routine in Argentina), we headed out for our last night in town to take Tango lessons at Cathedral de Tango. And let's just say, we are natural born dancers. Lots of flair and pzazz! With far more women than men, Ville was passed around the room and a big hit with the ladies. Think there may be some inquiries on my position. And after, our buds, Felix and Babun, met us for a goodbye drink. So grateful to have met you both, thank you for sharing your time with us and we will see each other again! We spent the night on the boat, ran a few last minute errands on shore the next day and made it back to the boat in time to pull anchor and sail out into the big open sea heading for Montevideo, Uruguay.
We awoke in the morning already in Montevideo, happy to not have to have pedaled to it. What a treat. The town itself was much smaller and relaxed than Buenos Aires and we enjoyed walking around town and the shore front. The majority of the Old Town can be seen in an hour, so we headed back to the boat for the buffet. We had OKed having our bike boxes stored somewhere on the boat beforehand, but once arriving on the boat, they realized there was just no space on a giant cruise ship for two small bike boxes, but helped us to squeeze them into our closet and, for the most part, out of the way. Luckily we don't have much for clothes and really, I just think we would miss our bikes too much not being able to see them, at least in the box, every day. It's like a junkie needing to at least know his/her fix is nearby. And after discussing with the staff on board just why we were hauling two bike boxes on board, they offered us a slot of time to do a presentation on board. So we scheduled it for March 7th, the day before arriving back in Ushuaia.
After Montevideo, we stopped in Puerto Madryn and then the Falkland Islands. Puerto Madryn was mainly just an industrial port town, but many took excursions to see penguins. We utilized WiFi in a cafe on land to prep for our presentation. Port Stanley on the Falkland Islands was a pretty cool place to see. It is about 300 miles east of southern Argentina out in the open sea, and is a British Territory with it's own internal self-governance. Because of their checkered past, it is not possible to fly from Argentina to the Islands and only a few flights even fly there. Therefore we felt privileged to get to go and see it. We walked around the tiny capitol city, to the graveyard, the top of the hill, and after all that walking Ville needed to wet his whistle in a pub. What stood out the most to us, was the stark contrast of British architecture, manicured yards and power lines that looked designed and maintained by electrical engineers. It was pretty posh.
The next day, March 7th, we dressed, had a drink to take the edge off (I thought I was going to pass out from the anxiety), and made our way down to the theater to get ready for our presentation. We appeared on the ship's Morning Show and then in the Princess Patter (daily newsletter) and were not sure how many people on board would actually show up for an 11am show, but we ended up with a packed house. I wasn't too nervous until I peeked out from back stage and saw the 600-seat theater full of people staring up at the stage. Oh geez. We got out there, and this dynamic duo wowed the crowd with a presentation of highlight pictures, maps, and even some videos from the ride. We had a Q & A after with tons of great questions and it went so well they had to cut us off because they needed the theater for the next show. After thinking not many people would even come to our short presentation, we were blown away by the number of people who came and have come up to us after to thank us for speaking. THANK YOU all of you who came to our presentation on board, we are really happy so many of you enjoyed it!
One would think offering ourselves up for all these presentations we just love the limelight, but quite the contrary, we don't think we are that cool (there are WAY cooler people than us) and we get pretty nervous getting on stage. But this is our way of giving back to all those that helped us, followed us and donated. We hope to inspire others to dream big, to be the proof that this world is full of mostly great people helping others, and especially to inspire youth to get out there and travel. If the news focuses on the .0001% of bad in the world, we are a voice for the 99.999% of good in the world. So a big Thank You to Princess Cruises, Matt and Ben for allowing us the opportunity to share our journey with others. And THANK YOU to all of you who came to our presentation and thanked us in person! We are very humbled by all the positive feedback and outpouring of support.
One of the most fun things we discovered about being on this cruise ship, as always on a journey, is the people! We have had the best time and converstations with people from all over the world at dinners, at shows, on shore and all over the boat. Making new friends from all over; Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France, England, Mexico and heaps from all over the United States. If we have not had the chance to get your contact info and you would love to keep in touch, get updates about adventure plans, our book, or even get a visit from two yahoos who love to travel the world, please write us! firstname.lastname@example.org. But careful what you wish for, we just might show up at your door step :)
This morning, we walked off our plush cruise ship with big smiles on our faces knowing we would be back in the place of our "end of the road." We walked back to the "Ushuaia", "End of the World" sign and completely unexpectedly I started crying. It's really hard to put into words what it feels like to come back to this place. I'm happy to have moved on to the next chapter of our journey in life, but sad to see the end of the last. And just like a chapter in a book helps weave together a story, the chapter of The Ride weaves into the story of our life and enriches it in ways one cannot explain in words only in memories. So grateful we were able to make the entire journey, and with such a great partner in crime by my side. Cheers to the next chapter! Until next time, keep on keepin' on!
P.S. Ville and I will be leading a spin class (stationary bikes) up in the gym on the cruise every morning at 8am. The class will last for 8 hours. Bring a towel. Just kidding!
K.G. & Ville
In Helsinki, Finland still writing the Book
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson